My USMLE step 2 CK experience 🙂
My name is Ayman Qasrawi,I am an intern from Jordan, I graduated in May, 2012.
Time of preparation: 6-7 months.
Date of exam: 19/Dec/2012
Sources: Kaplan lecture notes & USMLE world
The 1st thing I want to talk about is that preparation for USMLE steps is a highly challenging decion, you need to study very hardly for many months, it should be taken seriously, many people say I want to take USMLEs then stop in the middle of preparation because they find it so difficult. Is it that difficult ? Actually, not ! But it needs a lot patienece and the most important thing ,,, believe in yourself, everybody can do it with persistence !During my initial preparation I had a lot of trouble in keeping focused on studying, I studied for 1 day, then wasted the other one, so what did I do ? I just booked for the exam ! It worked ! When you pay 945 $ for an exam, things turn serious !
I started prepartion during the last 3 months of my sixth year, I started with Obs/Gyne, then went to peds where I finished about 80% of them, then I took a 2 months vaccation after my graduation. Then I started agian in the middle of July. I started with the Kaplan books agian:
IM:Internal medicine is the most important part of your preparation. 50% of your exam is medicne, so you should perfect every aspect of it. I studied 60% of MedStudy during my sixth year, so IM was a big advantage for me. Anyway, MedStudy is very detailed and too much for the CK, so do not waste ur time with it if you want to take the USMLE. I used Kaplan 2011 for the IM, the book is good and gets you straight to the idea. It took me like 1 and a half months to finish it twice. If I had studied from it during my 6th year, I would have saved a lot of time.
After finishing IM twice, I went throught peds again, I was depressed because I could not remember a thing from what I studied during my 6th year, the book describes milions of small topics and is full of very low yield topics, and also desribes some topics in a vague style, so it is very difficult to remember, if you face that problem do not worry, just study the book and try to memorize it, then go on, it is normal.
This is the best book of all the Kaplan series, it describes the high yield topics in an easy way and gets you staright to points, I recomend doing it twice. All UW questions can be answered from this book. In chapter 1, study the 1st seven pages and just abandon the pages from 8 to the end of the chapter.
Study the trauma chapter twice then scan the rest of chapters rapidly. It should not take more than 5 days to finish. DO not be sacred. The book is only 70 pages, the last 230 pages are just questions with copy paste of the same material written in the 1st 70 pages.
In my opinion, Kaplan is the worst book of all the series. In psyche part (my weakest area), the book is vague and full of things that you will not be even able to memorzie, so I suplemented it with blue prints, where I studied every topic from Kaplan then just read it again from blue prints and added some small notes.Kaplan is also very vague regading treatment guidelines, it just mentions the drugs used for the disease but never mentions what the drug of choice is, or what is the algorithim.Also regarding antipsychotic drugs, antidepressents and mood stabilzers, it describes them in a very rapid way, I read them from Lippincot Pharmacology, becuase they are a very high yield topic in the exam, I got like 5 questions about pure psychopharmacology. You are concerned with mechanism of action and side effects only, you will not be asked about metabolism and so on.Doing psyche one time is enough, becuase UW will be enough for everything
I don’t know if the author is even aware of the topics tested in the exam ! Most of the book desribes mortality rates, incidence, prevelance, and some very very low yield topics in much detail, and the book explained the sensitivty/specificity and types of bias in less than 2 pages !! These topics are ultra-high yield !!! But sadly, the book is talking about something else !So what should I do ?I tried used High-yield biostat, and read the 1st 4 chapters, DO NOT DO THAT, it is just a waste of time.All these topics are well expained in USMLE World.
As IMGs going to work for USA, we should know their ethics. You SHOULD read Conrad’s Fischer Medical Ethics. It is the most interesting book for CK, and you can master it in one day, becuase it is written like a story, laws will stick in your mind 🙂
To this day, I woner why this chapter is included here ! DON’T try to read it.
UW question bank
After finishing the books, I went to USMLE world qbank (started on 11/Oct/2012, 2 month and a week prior to exam).This is the MOST IMPORTANT and MOST CRITICAL part of your preparation.When you finish the books, UW is the only world you should be dealing with.Most of the questions of the real exam are based on UW and its explanations.After all, UW gives you all the needed information for the exam. Any word in UW could be a question.
How to study UW ?
Subscribe for 2 months with the assesment form (UWSA)Solve questions in a random, and TIMED way,Always solve 44q blocks, never less !After finishing each block, take a notebook and write the information that are new to you. After you finish writing the notes study them carefully, when you memorize them move to another block and so on.
How much time is needed to finish the pool of questions ?
40-45 days if you can study 7-10 h/d
I finsihed the 51 blocks in 45 days with an average of 84% (ranged from 70-95%). Do not worry if you get low scores initially, you will improve with time (I was 78% at 25% of total, 80% at half, 82% at 75%, and finished with 84%).
After finishing UW what should I do ?
Repeat your notes agian (It took me another 11 days), then in the last 3 days of my UW subscription I repeated 2/3 of the questions again (it was very easy for me, I just could remember all the questions).
After doing UW for 2 months I feel I can’t remember a thing from Kaplans, should revise them ? NO, focus on UW.
A topic is not mentioned in UW, should I go for a book to revise it ?No, anything not mentioned in UW is LOW YIELD for the exam.
My’ exam’s day:
I had 355 questions: 4 blocks of 45, 3 blocks of 44, 1 block of 43.
In general, the exam is similar to UW in style and length. Study UW very very well and you should understand every small word of it ! It should be the last part of your study plan.
UW & UWSA are ENOUGH for the exam.
Be prepared: in every block there is 3-4 questions which will be from hell ! You should prepare yourself that you will face questions you have no idea what they are talking about.
Drug adds were very very easy, I had 2, and every one had 2 questions
I had 1 research abs which had 3 questions, 2 of which I had no idea what the question was talking about.
Biostat questions in general were easier than UW with a similar style.
I had like 15 derma questions, all were pictures but easy, so make sure you know how derma disease look like (I used to look on google images while studying derma)
There are a lot of ECGs/CTs/XRs/MRIs/etc, so also make sure you can detect common thing on radio.
In general, the exam is harder than UWSA
The break: I used only 42 min of my break. I solved 2 blocks then took 15 min break, then solved 2 blocks then 10 min, then 5 min between each two blocks
You should assess your performance before doing th exam.As I felt so confident and had a high UW average (my average coresponded to 264), I did not do NBME, but if your average is low or medium I think you should take an NBME form.1 week prior to my exam I took UWSA and got 800 (265+) with 90% correct answers. I felt so confident, in the last week I just repeated my notes again for 4 days and studied UWSA for 1 day and took the last day off 🙂
Some myths about CK
- The exam has changed recently, became very hard, and it is not related UW or to any source.
Although harder, the exam is very similar to UW both in concepts & in lenghth.
DON’T EVER listen to depressing persons !
- My friend says: You MUST study MTB
There is nothing called a MUST in CK, all books give you just a baseline, and it is all a matter of opinion and different experiences, so if you feel comfortable about Kaplans use them, if you feel comfortable with MTB, use it, but do not use many resources unless you can’t understand something, trust we you will waste your precious time. After all, they test you with concepts, not from a specfic book !
- Doing step 1 before step 2 is a must becuase step 2 is full of step 1.
This absolultley wrong ! There are NO step 1 questions in the real exam, and if you face few, mostly they will appear in USMLW world. For example, many physiology stuff are present in the exam, but all are well explained in Kaplans and in UW 🙂
- You MUST do Kaplan q bank: Again there is nothing called a must ! In my opinion, it is full of low yield info, while others found it useful. If you don’t have time do not do it, but NEVER do it if this means you will give UW a shorter time.
Finally I would like to advise 5th and 6th year IMGs to start prepartion for CK during their final years, if I had the correct plan and studied evrything from Kaplans during my 6th year, I could have finished CK by early August or Sep, and believe me time matters ! You need to take part in the earliest match possible 🙂
I am sorry for the really long experience, I hope I was useful and pardon me for any spelling mistake. Do not hesitate to ask me about anything 🙂